NASHVILLE — Each and every year for as extensive as Steven Stamkos can try to remember, his moms and dads threw him a birthday party on a frozen pond near his home in Markham, Ontario. 

The invites have been very simple and simple: Put on your lengthy-johns, provide your skates and adhere, and be ready to engage in.

“I indicate, my birthday is in February (Feb. 7) so that was the birthday social gathering each and every yr, go to the regional pond and have a significant shinny sport with scorching chocolate and pizza and all that things,” the Tampa Bay Lightning captain stated Friday. “People were some genuinely terrific memories for me.”

Stamkos and his Lightning teammates get to produce a new out of doors hockey memory Saturday evening. The NHL sent the invitations this time, and extra than 65,000 folks are predicted to exhibit up.

“And at least listed here you don’t have to be concerned about slipping by way of the ice,” Stamkos explained.

The Lightning will engage in their 1st outside sport, turning into the 27th NHL crew to participate in one, when they face the Nashville Predators at Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, in the 2022 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Sequence (7:30 p.m. ET TNT, SN360, TVAS2, NHL Live).

It will be the 34th out of doors NHL video game due to the fact 2003. It also may possibly be the last time Stamkos and many of his teammates working experience a initial in their NHL careers, except if this year the Lightning turn out to be the very first group to get a few straight Stanley Cup championships considering the fact that the New York Islanders won four straight from 1980-83.

“Which is rather great to be in your 14th time, to be all over as lengthy as I have and however get to experience a first,” the ahead reported. “Which is rather special to do at this point in my career. We’re just going to embrace the environment.

“You can inform there is certainly a little buzz with anyone strolling in the dressing area, examining every thing out. It feels like a little something new.”

Stamkos, Tampa Bay’s energetic leader in video games played with 890, reported the Lightning players have been chatting about this sport for months, hardly capable to contain their pleasure.

They’ve reviewed all the things from how a lot of tickets they can get, to who is coming, to what the pregame introductions will be like, to the entertainers who will be carrying out, headlined by country singers Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley.

“I know we have been attempting to drive for 1 in Tampa, but climate is a little bit of an issue for our local weather,” Stamkos stated. “Hey, it really is a great difficulty to have. We are not complaining about that. But we’re just as energized as the supporters are to enjoy this game, in particular the gamers that haven’t gotten to working experience a thing like this.”

Ahead Alex Killorn, third amid energetic players in games performed with the Lightning (691) at the rear of Stamkos and defenseman Victor Hedman (866), stated the stage of excitement he is sensation for his initially out of doors match is in contrast to just about anything he has felt for any normal-year game.

“I signify, you have your very first game and the very first game of each and every period for the reason that you have the complete summer and you are just type of ready, but it will not review to this simply because it really is this sort of a distinct environment,” Killorn claimed. “When it obtained introduced I was fired up, but when I basically obtained below and you happen to be looking at Dierks Bentley just warming up, the families, every thing, it form of sinks in that this is pretty awesome.”

Killorn said he believes remaining in this activity also enhances the Lightning’s nationwide brand name, which is currently powerful following back again-to-again championships.

“When you look at groups that have gotten out of doors games, it really is a great deal of Initial Six teams, teams that have a ton of record,” he explained. “We communicate, not angrily, but in the locker home any time they announce the teams for these video games, we come to feel like we get slighted a bit just since we feel like we have accomplished a whole lot. I think we bought rewarded this year.”

Seven Lightning gamers have played at minimum just one NHL out of doors recreation, led by defenseman Ryan McDonagh with four. Ahead Pierre-Edouard Bellemare has played 3. Forwards Corey Perry and Pat Maroon each and every has performed two, as has goalie Brian Elliott. Defensemen Zach Bogosian and Fredrik Claesson every has performed a single. 

“It is enjoyable observing these guys expertise it,” Perry mentioned. “All people is like a very little kid in a sweet store proper now checking every little thing out and having the whole expertise. And which is what it truly is all about. You soak it all in and have entertaining with it. You by no means know when your next probability is likely to be.”

The Lightning will not likely be lacking in fan aid judging by the variety of individuals wearing their blue and white jerseys, sweatshirts, hats and toques around downtown Nashville, in the lodges and the honky-tonks on Reduced Broadway.

“I took a stroll ideal when we received to the resort and I failed to see any individual that was not a Lightning supporter,” Killorn mentioned. “It was wild. I talked to some men and women that were being out and about very last evening and they explained to me there were being some Lightning chants going on in some bars.”

Stamkos mentioned he is not amazed by it.

“I know how our lovers are,” he mentioned. “When you do not get to expertise a thing like this as an firm in advance of, the initial time all people is likely to be actually thrilled. We can feed off that electricity. It is really great. They are entitled to to have an event like this.”

An event more substantial than any birthday celebration he could have imagined.

“It’s different, and whenever items are unique you have that nervous vitality that builds up within you,” Stamkos explained. “It truly is anything that tomorrow, whilst in the standings it’s two factors, you can find a lot more to it than that. It is really definitely cool.”